I have a scar on the inside of my right elbow from a long ago fall during a bike ride. I can remember the feeling of flying through the air, and how it knocked the wind out of me as I slid through the gravel, scraping up my arms and legs and chin. I can remember the wail that eventually bubbled up out of me, and the excruciating process of cleaning all those scrapes.
I have a scar on my chin from a marshmallow/camping accident in my childhood. I can remember sitting around the fire, and the glow of the flame, and the shock when things went awry.
I have a scar on my left shin, a remnant of one of my first attempts at shaving my legs. I can remember the surprise of seeing the flash of white, and then the shock of red washing away down the drain.
I have six small scars on my right knee from two different attempts at fixing a damaged joint. The first three came when I was 17, and I can remember coming out of the anesthesia but not being totally awake and the pain that was there as I gained consciousness. I remember passing out the first time the bandages came off. I remember how unpleasant the recovery was. The second three came exactly 10 years later, and I remember being astounded at how much different my recovery ended up being, and how much easier it was. I also remember being annoyed that they gave me NEW scars to go with the old ones.
And I have one long scar that spans my abdomen from the day that they pulled my heart out of my body in an 8 pound 11.5 ounce package. I can remember the tugging and pressure, and the surprise at how little time it took. And I can remember the wall of emotion that hit me when he cried. I can remember the sound of staples, and the fear of taking my first shower, and how much it hurt to laugh/sit up/stand up/sneeze. That scar took a lot out of me, emotionally and physically, (though I no longer agonize over it the way I did) and it is the largest scar on my body. It itches sometimes and three years later there are still days when it pulls funny, and I am convinced I will never have the same abdominal walls again.
I am a body made up of flaws and imperfections. I am skin and muscle and fat and bone and, yes, scar tissue. These are just some of the physical marks that make up my body, and that make up my past, and that make up a part of me. Some of them are only memories now, perhaps with a small lesson I’ve remembered (don’t lean over a flaming marshmallow). Some of them have ongoing effects, as the grinding in my knee can attest to. And some of them have changed my life, or at the least, are the physical mark of an event that changed my life.
When I look at my body, I may wish that I didn’t gain weight in my stomach, or that my arms were more toned, or that that double chin didn’t appear so often. But my scars? I never wish those away. There’s no amount of creams or potions that could make them disappear, but even if there was some magic wand, I would not wish them gone. They are marks of a life with a past, of a life with stories and I would never un-tell them.
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